Start of Tree Streets Suburb, Karri Street POI & Swamp Road

Tree Street Art Safari Architecture Tour

Start of Tree Streets Suburb, Karri Street POI & Swamp Road

Bunbury, Western Australia 6230, Australia

Created By: Tree Street Area Art Safari

Point of Interest Details

Discuss origins of Tree Streets Area

In the 1890s, during the Western Australian gold boom period, the growth of the timber export trade from Bunbury transformed the economy of the town. Bunbury made rapid progress following the opening of the South-Western Railway, and the development of the harbour also paved the way to further development in the Western Australian gold boom period. Bunbury provided an important port for the developing timber industry. The fruit growing in the South-West began to expand rapidly, as the newly built railway provided transport to the wider markets of the city and thence to the gold fields. Bunbury spread beyond its original town boundary and evolved from a small town to include suburbs.

Hough, Spencer, Clarke, Moore and others, further sub-divided the 10 acre lots they had purchased from Stirling’s Estates to the east of the town into residential lots, and this area became the favored location for the residences of the upper echelon in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.20 (Molyneux, Ian ‘Bunbury National Estate Survey’ 1978.)

In 1893, Ephraim Mayo Clarke (commemorated in Clarke Street, Bunbury) orchardist and farmer of Roelands, planted a vineyard at Big Swamp, south of the Tree Street Area. In 1896, the Municipality of Bunbury was extended to include a large area south of the townsite, including the land held by Clarke.21 (ibid, p. 68 and p. 75.) This area, which includes Tree Streets Heritage Area, became known as South Bunbury22 (Rate Books, Bunbury, South Ward, 1921-22; and Wise's Post Office Directory 1926.), most of which was progressively developed as Bunbury grew in the twentieth century.

In c. 1899-1900, W. B. Mitchell of Bunbury offered for sale a sub-division of 95 suburban building lots fronting Karri, Tuart and Jarrah streets (the names of tree species indigenous to the South-West) and Swamp Road (present day Beach Road), marketed as the new townsite of Stirling, so-named in commemoration of Stirling. The sub-division plan shows the Main Road (present day Spencer Street) leading to Bunbury and Perth, with Swamp Road (taking its name from Big Swamp) as the southern boundary of the sub-division. Stockley Road, named after Sarah Stockley, intersects the north-south streets.23 (Sub-division plan Townsite of Stirling, original held by Bunbury Historical Society, microfilm at Battye Library, TNO 009 480.)

Priced from £10 to £15 each25 (?), the relatively cheap lots and ready availability of timber as a building material would enable many working class and lower middle class people to realise an ambition to become owner/occupiers in Tree Streets Area, in which most of the pre-World War Two residences would be of timber construction.

The sub-division plan also shows the un-divided Lots in the immediate vicinity: Lot 40 and 53 in the ownership of Dr. T. H. Lovegrove (later commemorated in Lovegrove Avenue); Lot 41 in the ownership of Miss Garvey (commemorated in Garvey Place); and Lot 42.26

In 1901, the Commonwealth Electoral provides evidence that at least 36 residences had been built in Tree Streets Heritage Area and Swamp Road. There were at least nine or 10 residences in Tuart Street; at least six in Karri Street; at least three in Jarrah Street; at least one in Stockley Road; and at least 17 in Swamp Road. The electors resident in Swamp Road included a gardener and a farmer (who were working the land to the south of the road), labourers, tradesmen, engine drivers, a blacksmith, a baker, a contractor, an inspector, an examiner, and a fuel man. Residents in Karri, Tuart and Jarrah streets, and Stockley Road, included seven labourers, two firemen, two contractors, a carpenter, a benchman, a timber hewer, a painter, a compositor, a saddler, a bootmaker, a tailor, a watchman and a nurse. The latter was the only woman recorded with an occupation other than home duties, domestic service or as a widow28, indicative of women’s role in society at large at this period. The 1901 Electoral Roll indicates the predominantly working class nature of the area, which would continue through much of the first half of the twentieth century.

Much of the residential development in the Tree Streets Area dates from the early twentieth century, a period of rapid expansion and development at Bunbury, following the opening of the Great Southern Railway (1893), and the period in which the harbour was developed and Bunbury became a popular holiday destination in the wake of the Western Australian gold boom. The Tree Streets Area retains many of the qualities and characteristics that were evident by c.1920, by which date it was a well established, largely working class suburb of Bunbury. Most residences were modest, single storey dwellings, of timber construction as this material was readily available and considerably cheaper than brick or stone, which fulfilled their owner/occupiers ambitions to own their own home. Much of the built fabric in the Tree Streets Area dates from the period 1900-18 and the inter-war period, and has aesthetic and historic significance. The cohesion of the Tree Streets Area is embodied in the wide street verges, substantial set back of the dwellings, the cohesive nature of the design styles and building materials (with timber construction predominating), with established and well maintained front and rear gardens for the most part, and mostly low level fencing or no fencing at the front boundaries providing an open aspect to the streets in most instances.

Not all properties conform to the pattern, some are altered and some are later or new developments. On the other hand some are outstanding examples of timber construction houses from the first half of the twentieth century, while many others are simple and modest architectural expressions of the period.

Description of the main physical elements in the area:

Briefly, the main physical characteristics of the area include:-

An early twentieth century sub-division pattern characterised by:

  • a modified grid road pattern to the old large lot boundaries, the location of Big Swamp to the south, and the undulating topography, with the dominant pattern being streets oriented on the north-south axis, and most lots facing onto the dominant north-south frontages;

  • variable topography with high ground to the north sloping down from Sampson Street in the north to Stockley Road in a steep decline, then a gentle decline to Beach Road;

  • block patterns that are mostly oriented in the east-west direction;

  • minimum serviceable road width roads;

  • generous grassed verges with plantings of Cape Lilacs (Melia azedarach), and Peppermint Trees (Agonis flexuosa) giving rise to a distinctive public domain;

  • a predominance of single storey single residential dwellings;

  • reasonably uniform front setbacks;

  • garages and carports not a prominent feature;

  • a predominance of driveways set to the side of houses;

  • a narrow range of architectural styles and a high proportion of timber framed and clad houses;

  • front gardens, whether developed or not are a significant element that characterises the pattern of development; and,

  • a limited palette of front boundary treatments, generally comprising open gardens, timber picket fences, or hedging.

    A distinct pattern of housing development reflecting the mainly working class origins of the initial owners with a strong visual coherence characterised by:

  • property lots of a near uniform size;

  • predominantly modest dwellings of a similar size prior to additions and alterations in the late twentieth century;

  • mainly dwellings developed over a period of forty years in a small range of Federation and Inter-War styles;

  • a predominance of timber framed and timber clad houses with corrugated iron roofs, or part clad with timber and flat asbestos cement upper walls; and,

  • a relatively small number of places that fall outside the Federation and Inter-War period and characteristic styles.

  • Attractive and important mature tree plantings in the public domain, with some significant tree plantings on the lots, notwithstanding the heavy pollarding of trees under power lines

115 Beach Road

Craigie Lea, 115 Beach Road, a single storey brick and iron house (now opthomolgists) is a late representive example of the Victorian Georgian style of residential housing common to Perth, Fremantle and the South West of Western Australia during this time period; the place is associated with the Manning family, who were early farming pioneers in the Bunbury district; the place represents the growth of Bunbury and the improvement in housing due to the influence of the goldrush and financial boom of the 1890s.

In 1891, Clement Magowan a tin miner from Greenbushes, subdivided his land on what was then Swamp Road. He sold Lots 1 – 5 to Joseph Manning in June 1897. The Manning family were early farmers in the Bunbury district. Craigie Lea was built c1897 on Lot 3 by Manning and bricklayer Charles Hill. The house was named after a place in Scotland near where Manning’s wife Jane was born. At the time it was built, Craigie Lea was on the urban fringe of Bunbury. Joseph Manning is attributed to carving out a track through another section of his land at Punchbowl from the house to the beach. This track was then used by the Bunbury Council as a basis for Swamp Road. The Manning family objected to the name and in 1906 Beach Road was gazetted as ‘westward from Vasse Road (Spencer Street) to William Street, thence south-west to a link road.’ Members of the Manning family lived at Craigie Lea from 1897 to 1983.

76 Stockley Road is a single storey timber and iron house designed in the Federation Bungalow style of architecture. The walls are timber framed and clad with timber weatherboards. The roof is hipped with gablets and clad with corrugated iron. The verandah wraps around the building and is under a broken back corrugated iron roof supported by slender timber posts.

The date of construction of 76 Stockley Road has not been determined as no entry for the lot could be found in the available Bunbury Rate Books prior to 1931. It is thought that the house was built c.1910. In 1931, 76 Stockley Road was owned and occupied by Catherine Johnston. Catherine was still the owner in 1941, though at this time it was a rental property. Tenants included G H Zeplin and a person by the name of Johnstone. By 1951, Kathleen Johnstone was the owner and occupier of House, 76 Stockley Road.

The land to the north of Stockley Road, at Lots 40 and 53, much of which was swamp land remained un-divided, through into the early 1920s.35 In the post-World War One period, T. D. Prosser acquired the ‘mostly swampy’ land between present day Lovegrove Avenue and Stockley Road, and filled it using sand from ’about midway up Stockley Road’.36 After it had settled, the land was sub-divided for sale as residential lots.37 By 1921-22, there were dwellings on at least six of these lots which fronted Stockley Road and more than 10 dwellings in Picton Crescent, whilst the northern portion of Tuart Street, Banksia, Palm and Wattle Streets remained largely vacant land.38 In the inter-war period, Lot 41 was also sub-divided. Named Garvey Place after Miss Garvey, the first residences were built there by the early 1940s.39

This point of interest is part of the tour: Tree Street Art Safari Architecture Tour


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